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Prospect of owners of off-road vehicles needing insurance is unnecessary, unworkable and unfair says the insurance industry

  • Owners of vehicles like golf buggies and motorised lawnmowers could be forced to take out third party insurance following a ruling by the European Court of Justice

Owners of vehicles used on private land, such as quad bikes, golf buggies, mobility scooters and motorised lawnmowers, together with participants in motor sports, could all be forced to take out third party insurance unless the European Commission takes urgent action insurance organisations warned today.

If the Commission fails to act then the UK government will need to change domestic law and extend the scope of compulsory motor insurance for the time the UK remains in the EU and during any exit transition period. This would lead to significant disruption and additional costs.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2014 ruled that compensation for injuries suffered by a Slovenian farm worker, Damijan Vnuk, by a tractor while on private land should have been covered by compulsory motor insurance. In the UK motor insurance is compulsory for vehicles used on public roads, but not on private land.

The ABI, together with the British Insurance Brokers Association, Motor Insurers’ Bureau, International Underwriting Association, Lloyds Market Association and Lloyd’s, are urging the EU Commission to resolve this by implementing its proposal to clarify that compulsory motor insurance only applies to vehicles when in traffic and not those used on private land.

The ruling is:

  • Unnecessary. Had the accident happened in the UK, it would have been covered through employers’ liability insurance or public liability insurance. No other EU country has such a wide ranging compulsory motor insurance regime as that that would result from implementing this ruling.
  • Unworkable. Implementation would involve a costly taxpayer-funded enforcement and compliance regime. It would be virtually impossible to enforce, as such vehicles are not on any public database and do not need to be licenced. It would be difficult for the police and insurers to access private land to ensure compliance and to assess any accident. This could increase the risk of uninsured driving and fraud.
  • Unfair. Regular recreational motorsport participants would be forced to pay for cover they have never needed before. As insurers will have no reliable past data  to assess the risk and calculate premiums, the cost of insurance could make it difficult for some events to continue. Responsibility for the safety of participants and the public at such events should remain the responsibility of the event organisers.

Ben Howarth, Senior Policy Adviser, Motor and Liability, Association of British Insurers, said:

“We recognise that victims of accidents on private land should be entitled to compensation, but making insurance compulsory for off-road vehicle users is unnecessary, unworkable and unfair. There is no evidence that this extension is needed in the UK. And it could prove the next lucrative hunting ground for claims management companies, encouraging claims that end up being paid for by all motorists through higher premiums.

“The European Commission can easily resolve this, by implementing its own proposal to simply specify that the Motor Insurance Directive only applies to vehicles in traffic. It needs to end the uncertainty by doing this now.”



Last updated 24/08/2017